The Athenians dispatched ambassadors to Artaphernes to dissuade him from taking action, but Artaphernes merely instructed the Athenians to take Hippias back as tyrant. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Battle of Marathon, detail of a relief from a Roman sarcophagus, 2nd century, Athens was not entirely alone in its fight against the Persians at the, …defeat by the Athenians at Marathon in 490. The following two hundred years saw the rise of the Classical Greek civilization, which has been enduringly influential in western society and so the Battle of Marathon is often seen as a pivotal moment in Mediterranean and European history.  Not long after however, his fleet became wrecked by a violent storm, which brought a premature end to the campaign. There may have been several strategic reasons for this; perhaps they were aware (or suspected) that the Athenians were expecting reinforcements.  Herodotus suggests that command rotated between the strategoi, each taking in turn a day to command the army.  The new-found freedom and self-governance of the Athenians meant that they were thereafter exceptionally hostile to the return of the tyranny of Hippias, or any form of outside subjugation, by Sparta, Persia, or anyone else.
, As is discussed below, the reason for the delay was probably simply that neither the Athenians nor the Persians were willing to risk battle initially.  Darius thus resolved to subjugate and pacify Greece and the Aegean, and to punish those involved in the Ionian Revolt.  However, since the 19th century his reputation has been dramatically rehabilitated by archaeological finds which have repeatedly confirmed his version of events. In 500 BC the Persian Empire was still relatively young and highly expansionistic, but prone to revolts amongst its subject peoples. The generals were evenly divided on whether to await the Persians or to attack them, and the tie was broken by a civil official, Callimachus, who decided in favour of an attack. The god apparently felt that the promise would be kept, so he appeared in battle and at the crucial moment he instilled the Persians with his own brand of fear, the mindless, frenzied fear that bore his name: "panic". According to legend, a messenger was sent from Marathon to Athens, a distance of about 25 miles (40 km), and announced the Persian defeat before dying of exhaustion. The Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BC during the first Persian invasion of Greece. The dog followed his master to battle and attacked the Persians at his master's side. Herodotus explicitly tells us that the Greeks attacked the Persians (and the other sources confirm this), but it is not clear why they did this before the arrival of the Spartans. A Military History of the Western World. The Athenians also sent a message to the Spartans asking for support. A member of the crew saw him, cut off his hand, and Cynaegirus died. This idea was heavily supported by Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, as well as the Greeks. C.." 1933, The Achaemenid Empire in South Asia and Recent Excavations in Akra in Northwest Pakistan Peter Magee, Cameron Petrie, Robert Knox, Farid Khan, Ken Thomas.  Pausanias also tells us that: They say too that there chanced to be present in the battle a man of rustic appearance and dress. In 492 BC, after the Ionian Revolt had finally been crushed, Darius dispatched an expedition to Greece under the command of his son-in-law, Mardonius. ", This page was last edited on 17 October 2020, at 11:26. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox.  The fact that the Ionian democracies were inspired by the example the Athenians had set no doubt further persuaded the Athenians to support the Ionian Revolt, especially since the cities of Ionia were originally Athenian colonies. , Cleomenes was not pleased with events, and marched on Athens with the Spartan army.  Having everything to lose by attacking, and much to gain by waiting, the Athenians remained on the defensive in the run up to the battle.  Connected with this episode, Herodotus recounts a rumour that this manoeuver by the Persians had been planned in conjunction with the Alcmaeonids, the prominent Athenian aristocratic family, and that a "shield-signal" had been given after the battle. Command of the hastily assembled Athenian army was vested in 10 generals, each of whom was to hold operational command for one day. Under the guidance of Miltiades, the Athenian general with the greatest experience of fighting the Persians, the Athenian army marched quickly to block the two exits from the plain of Marathon, and prevent the Persians moving inland. , Modern historians have proposed wide-ranging numbers for the infantry, from 20,000–100,000 with a consensus of perhaps 25,000; estimates for the cavalry are in the range of 1,000. In response to this raid, Darius swore to burn down Athens and Eretria.  Nevertheless, there are still some historians who believe Herodotus made up much of his story. There are several explanations of the Greek success.
 In some medieval codices of Herodotus, the name of the runner between Athens and Sparta before the battle is given as Philippides, and this name is also preferred in a few modern editions.  Some, unaware of the local terrain, ran towards the swamps where unknown numbers drowned. After the battle, a sacred precinct was established for Pan in a grotto on the north slope of the Acropolis, and a sacrifice was annually offered.  Alternatively, they may have felt the need to force some kind of victory—they could hardly remain at Marathon indefinitely. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. He wrote his Enquiries (Greek – Historiai; English – (The) Histories) around 440–430 BC, trying to trace the origins of the Greco-Persian Wars, which would still have been relatively recent history (the wars finally ended in 450 BC). Darius then began raising a huge new army with which he meant to completely subjugate Greece; however, in 486 BC, his Egyptian subjects revolted, indefinitely postponing any Greek expedition.
, Another tale from the conflict is of the dog of Marathon. Regarding the ethnicities involved in the battle, Herodotus specifically mentions the presence of the Persians and the Sakae at the center of the Achaemenid line: They fought a long time at Marathon. Doenges, N.A.
, In 510 BC, with the aid of Cleomenes I, King of Sparta, the Athenian people had expelled Hippias, the tyrant ruler of Athens.  With Hippias's father Peisistratus, the family had ruled for 36 out of the previous 50 years and fully intended to continue Hippias's rule. The phalanx formation proved successful, because the hoplites had a long tradition in hand-to-hand combat, whereas the Persian soldiers were accustomed to a very different kind of conflict.  This then raises the question of why the battle occurred when it did. Furthermore, time worked in their favour, as every day brought the arrival of the Spartans closer. Gomme. And when Miltiades realized that, he attacked and thus won.  The phalanx formation was still vulnerable to cavalry (the cause of much caution by the Greek forces at the Battle of Plataea), but used in the right circumstances, it was now shown to be a potentially devastating weapon. The number was so great, it was decided to offer 500 goats yearly until the number was filled.  At some later point Cleomenes instigated a plot to restore Hippias to the rule of Athens.  In addition, in overall charge, was the War-Archon (polemarch), Callimachus, who had been elected by the whole citizen body. Herodotus, however, relates that a trained runner, Pheidippides (also spelled Phidippides, or Philippides), was sent from Athens to Sparta before the battle in order to request assistance from the Spartans; he is said to have covered about 150 miles (240 km) in about two days. Archaeological evidence, such as the Serpent Column, also supports some of Herodotus's specific claims..
 There does, however, seem to have been a delay between the Athenian arrival at Marathon and the battle; Herodotus, who evidently believed that Miltiades was eager to attack, may have made a mistake while seeking to explain this delay.  The pacification of Ionia allowed the Persians to begin planning their next moves; to extinguish the threat to the empire from Greece and to punish Athens and Eretria.. The expedition was intended to bring the Cyclades into the Persian empire, to punish Naxos (which had resisted a Persian assault in 499 BC) and then to head to Greece to force Eretria and Athens to submit to Darius or be destroyed. Armies of Ancient Greece Circa 500 to 338 BC, Aurelian and Probus – The soldier emperors who saved Rome.  It is also possible that both theories are correct: when the Persians sent the cavalry by ship to attack Athens, they simultaneously sent their infantry to attack at Marathon, triggering the Greek counterattack. If the first theory is correct (see above), then the absence of cavalry removed the main Athenian tactical disadvantage, and the threat of being outflanked made it imperative to attack. , The distance between the two armies at the point of battle had narrowed to "a distance not less than 8 stadia" or about 1,500 meters. He also informs us that this dog is depicted in the mural of the Stoa Poikile. Once the Ionian revolt was finally crushed by the Persian victory at the Battle of Lade in 494 BC, Darius began plans to subjugate Greece. The defeat at Marathon marked the end of the first Persian invasion of Greece, and the Persian force retreated to Asia. This failed and Hippias again fled to Sardis and tried to persuade the Persians to subjugate Athens. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica.  Thus, this re-embarcation would have occurred before the battle (and indeed have triggered the battle)..  Pan asked why the Athenians did not honor him and the awed Pheidippides promised that they would do so from then on.  Miltiades, the Athenian general, ordered a general attack against the Persian forces, composed primarily of missile troops. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). The Athenian and Plataean dead of Marathon were buried on the battlefield in two tumuli.
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